Headstone Manor is a 14th century moated manor house located in Headstone in the London Borough of Harrow. It is the earliest surviving timber framed building in Middlesex and has been described as ‘one of the most interesting domestic complexes in the whole country.’
The manor building is Grade I listed and the moated site is a Scheduled Monument. The wider site contains three other listed buildings; the Great Barn (Grade II*), Granary and Small Barn (both Grade II). Together they hold the Harrow Museum.
Buttress was initially appointed to carry out a feasibility study to look at options for the development across the site, to better use the buildings and improve facilities for visitors. Subsequent to this, the practice undertook a condition survey and produced a conservation management plan to provide Headstone Manor with a comprehensive conservation framework.
These documents then fed into the development of a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project has involved the restoration of a number of buildings across the site to improve the museum’s interpretation and visitor offer.
The Small Barn and Granary
The Grade II listed Small Barn is currently vacant, and is used for storage. As it has no windows, the barn has be used as the entrance to the historic site, with museum displays inside to introduce visitors to the wider stories of the site. Alongside this work, the Grade II listed Granary has also been restored to provide the education facilities on site.
The Great Barn
A key proposal from our visioning exercise was to seperate the redevelopment of the Great Barn from the HLF project, and to precede it. This project saw the Grade II* listed Great Barn restored and adapted for use as a commercial events space.
Finally, a new Welcome Building has been designed as a contemporary barn, housing the café to announce arrival for visitors to the site.
The Grade I listed Manor House is the most significant building on the site and our primary concern has been to conserve it as one of the most significant historic houses in Greater London. Its conversion to a museum is respectful and presents the house ‘as found’ with the differing structures and historic features visible throughout to help reveal and interpret the house’s significance to visitors.
The design intent of the Manor House scheme has been to present the building itself as the key exhibit of the Headstone Manor site, and for this to be supplemented by a sympathetic interpretation installation. The House is a particularly complex arrangement of additions and alterations of a variety of periods, which only serves to enrich its interpretive value.
As such, our approach to the Manor House's conservation and repair has been to retain the unique look and feel of the building, so that it appears as it was historically was - a Manor House. Most of the building's story is in its fabric, and the conservation and design strategy has been to maximise interpretation of this by leaving its layers exposed. In doing so, visitors can gain and insight into the construction of the building and contemporary working methods.